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Twenty years on, Khiladi drives fans crazy again

- Akshay Kumar-starrer hits box office bullseye on opening day; resistance mood at gala for cine lovers

The Khiladi (player) is back in Patna and with him has returned the high-stakes game of “black” tickets.

Akshay Kumar-starrer action-comedy Khiladi 786 released to jingling box office and packed houses on Friday. The craze for the eighth film in the Khiladi series — the last one was Khiladi 420 (2000) — was so acute that his fans did not hesitate to purchase tickets in “black”.

Those who were desperate to catch a show of the film but could not get tickets at the box office had to shell out Rs 350-400 for passes priced at for Rs 150 to Rs 180. The last time tickets were sold in “black” was in January this year when the Hrithik Roshan-starrer Agneepath was released.

Kankerbagh resident Avinash Kumar, who bought a Rs 150 ticket for Rs 400, said: “A Khiladi film has released after a long time. Akshay Kumar is my favourite actor. I wanted to watch the film today (Friday) at any cost. As I could not get a ticket at the box office, I bought one for ‘black’. I don’t mind paying a little extra.”

Nor did anyone else. At Regent — where five shows are running — the audience whistled and clapped when Akshay appeared on the screen.

Regent owner Suman Kumar Sinha said: “I have been running this cinema for 27 years. I know what people in Patna want.”

He added that the five shows on Friday were houseful and almost all seats were booked for the weekend.

Asked about tickets being sold in “black”, he said: “If you want to watch a film, you must book in advance. But those who make last-minute plans often fall prey to such nefarious activities.”

Cinepolis — the multiplex at P&M Mall running 10 shows — had very few empty seats either. It registered 80 per cent occupancy figures on Friday. Manager Abhishek Ranjan said: “Around 60 per cent seats have already been booked in advance for Saturday and Sunday.”

The strong opening gave boost to Khiladi 786 in the race for first day collections. It left behind other big-budget films like Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Son of Sardaar and Talaash (see chart). It came second only to Salman Khan-starrer Ek Tha Tiger.


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